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Thank god for chanukah

12/26/2019 10:42:15 AM

Dec26

Shalom Lewis, Rabbi Emeritus

We might imagine that Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are the most popular holidays because of the attendance. At no other time during the year is the sanctuary and beyond so full. No other festival comes close. Perhaps Shabbos attendance in the annual aggregate surpasses the High Holidays but for a singular sanctuary moment it’s indisputably the Big Two.  And yet there is more to these demographics than pew...Read more...

 Holiday Heroes

12/18/2019 03:59:55 PM

Dec18

Rabbi Dan Dorsch

Every year I inevitably get an email from a concerned parent of a young child asking what to do about Santa Claus. Their child has asked them if Santa is real. Or, he or she is worried that Santa Claus won’t come to Jewish houses.

 

Forgetting for a moment that the modern day...Read more...

Death Tells a greater story than birth

12/18/2019 03:53:06 PM

Dec18

Shalom Lewis, Rabbi Emeritus

This week I celebrate another birthday. Thankfully, I am still dodging the Grim Reaper. I have not become a Dressler stat and am successfully medicating my aging body into healthy submission.

 

The Bible is an incredibly rich compendium of all knowledge. Whatever tidbit we seek, it is found in our Tanach, yet there is only one mention...Read more...

american judaism

12/12/2019 04:30:49 PM

Dec12

Rabbi Dan Dorsch

Earlier this week, I jet-setted up north to the United Synagogue/Rabbinical Assembly Convention in Boston. Keeping in mind W.H. Auden’s famous quote that “thou shalt not sit with statisticians,” here’s some quick food for thought related to future trends related to American Judaism:   1. I find fascinating, although not at all surprising, that not every person who belongs to a conservative synagogue identifies as a conservative...Read more...

The Bris

12/12/2019 04:24:53 PM

Dec12

Shalom Lewis, Rabbi Emeritus

He was perhaps the most famous mohel in history. He was not a Biblical personality nor did he achieve fame performing ritual circumcisions for the rich and famous. His name was Charles Levin and he died recently in Oregon at the age of seventy.

 

In 1993, he was catapulted into fame as the neurotic mohel on Seinfeld. I remember well the...Read more...

jacob's ladder

12/05/2019 12:38:21 PM

Dec5

Rabbi Dan Dorsch

 

This week a congregant shared with me an interpretation of the story of Jacob’s ladder that had to do with the survival of the Jewish people. According to the interpretation she heard, the angel moving up and down the ladder yet always surviving is symbolic of how we, the Jewish people, have endured throughout our history.

 Read more...

pride and the Middle east

12/05/2019 12:27:48 PM

Dec5

Shalom Lewis, Rabbi Emeritus

I love when self-righteous piety gets exposed as moral idiocy and bigotry.

 

What is the only country in the Middle East that has gay pride parades? Gay bars? Gay neighborhoods? Gay celebrities? Gay rights? The obvious answer is, of course, Israel. And yet, many in the progressive LGBTQ community despise Israel, discriminating against her, celebrating the Palestinian state.

 

It gets juicer. The...Read more...

"Boomers"

11/27/2019 11:56:39 AM

Nov27

Rabbi Dan Dorsch

Just in time your annual Thanksgiving argument, Liel Leibovitz penned an article in Tablet Magazine that places the blame for all of the challenges faced by contemporary Judaism squarely on baby boomers. Rifting on the now popular internet meme “Ok, Boomer,” he accuses boomers as being hypocritical and out of touch. Boomers, he writes, are experts on decrying the Jewish choices that their children fail to...Read more...

Giving thanks

11/27/2019 11:12:56 AM

Nov27

Shalom Lewis, Rabbi Emeritus

Her name was Yasmine. She was my Uber driver last week when I found myself in need of transportation. She pulled up to the house in a gray Toyota. I checked credentials. All was in order and off we went.

 

She was a beautiful woman, in her mid-twenties. Her dark hair was wrapped in a tidy kerchief and her outfit was quite stylish. We...Read more...

The Gift

11/21/2019 10:07:04 AM

Nov21

Rabbi Dan Dorsch

Sophia Becker and her husband Mordechai were at one time members of Congregation Etz Chaim. They lived in Indian Hills. They built a business here. Feeling a sense of affinity toward our community, it was therefore not a surprise that at that time, they purchased plots in the Etz Chaim section of Arlington Cemetery.

 

Mordechai passed...Read more...

The visitor and the cast

11/21/2019 09:46:40 AM

Nov21

Shalom Lewis, Rabbi Emeritus

She wished to meet with a rabbi to discuss the book of Prophets in the Bible. She was teaching a class in her church and wanted insight. We made an appointment. She showed up right on time. I welcomed her. She sat down with pad and pen and we began the Q and A.

 

Her questions were reasonable and well thought out. It was a pleasant chat...Read more...

Zionism and israel

11/14/2019 03:22:09 PM

Nov14

Rabbi Dan Dorsch

Quoting the Jewish satirist Ephraim Kishon, Israeli politician Yair Lapid wrote this past week that “The State of Israel wasn’t founded so that anti-Semitism would end. It was founded so that we could tell the anti-Semites to shove it.”

 

Why am I a Zionist? Why do I support the State of Israel? It’s not only because after...Read more...

todays anti-semitism

11/14/2019 03:13:37 PM

Nov14

Shalom Lewis, Rabbi Emeritus

This is the eightieth anniversary year of Kristallnacht arguably the official start of the Shoah. Jewish businesses were vandalized. Synagogues torched. Innocent Jews rounded up. This was raw, unapologetic anti-Semitism that ended in the destruction of European Jewry.

 

This assault was Kristal clear. Pathological. Savage. Today’s...Read more...

Challenges for Jewish families in the 21st century

11/07/2019 10:24:21 AM

Nov7

Rabbi Dan Dorsch

This week, I did something a little subversive. But first, a little background:

 

There is little question that the decision whether or not to send our children to school on festivals like Sukkot, Shemini Atzeret, or Simchat Torah, let alone on the High Holy Days, is challenging for...Read more...

linguistic bond

11/07/2019 09:39:04 AM

Nov7

Shalom Lewis, Rabbi Emeritus

It was a casual conversation about observance when in the appropriate context I mentioned the term licht benchin. My counterpart nodded as the banter smoothly continued. Our shared vocabulary required no explanation nor translation. We spoke the same language and our discussion flowed easily. But then I wondered and grew concerned. I had a linguistic bond with this person. A shared dictionary of memories. But what...Read more...

Bereshit 5780: how do we begin again?

10/31/2019 02:04:52 PM

Oct31

Rabbi Dan Dorsch

A year after Pittsburgh, as we find ourselves once again beginning the Torah, Bereshit, we must ask ourselves this Shabbat, Bereshit? How do we begin our lives again?

One year after all of the shock and the sadness and the enhanced security protocols on Shabbat mornings, how do we as a community, as a human family, bereshit, how do we find hope and...Read more...

Consequence of Taking a Stand

10/31/2019 01:39:35 PM

Oct31

Shalom Lewis, Rabbi Emeritus

I respect courage when there is risk, but not when the bravado is a cheap platitude and politically correct.

 

Being a moral big shot when it costs nothing is meaningless. When the consequence of taking a stand is from a safe distance then the principle preached possesses no power. If there is skin in the game and injury possible then...Read more...

Sukkot yizkor 5780:  why do we pray for rain on sukkot?

10/24/2019 09:20:44 AM

Oct24

Rabbi Daniel Dorsch

While I was reminded by Ron Judenberg that we don’t pray for rain until the end of the week, only on Shemini Atzeret--technically after Sukkot has ended--one has to wonder whether God wasn’t listening just a little early this year. Since without question this has been the rainiest sukkot I can remember.   As I watched the rain nearly obliterate an entire week of outdoor programming, on some level I realized that I should be thankful....Read more...

HOLY SNEAKERS, bATMAN

10/24/2019 09:16:48 AM

Oct24

Shalom Lewis, Rabbi Emeritus

In the old days one could easily decipher satire from reality. Absurdity from authenticity. An SNL ad from a legitimate network commercial. But what I am about to share is the ‘Gospel truth’. When I walk to shul, I wear comfortable footwear and switch into my dress shoes upon arrival. I do the reverse when I walk home. I think it’s a reasonable thing to do but there is nothing sacred or spiritual about my Merrell’s nor my Cole...Read more...

A Different Signing Bonus

10/17/2019 02:21:59 PM

Oct17

Rabbi Daniel Dorsch

If you were here on Kol Nidrei, you learned from Allison’s President’s speech that I am going to be the rabbi of Etz Chaim for at least another full shmita cycle (if not, now you know!). I feel quite blessed and excited to continue to raise my children in such a wonderful, caring, nurturing community.

 

Over my career, I’ve been blessed to experience several contract renewals. I have to admit that after each one,...Read more...

Our Destiny is fragile

10/17/2019 02:19:23 PM

Oct17

Rabbi Emeritus Shalom Lewis

I share with you the following text by Abraham Joshua Heschel that I recently stumbled across by happy happenstance. It holds particular relevance and meaning for us as we venture forward into a new year. It empowers us with responsibility. Inspires us with humble majesty. Reminds us that our destiny is fragile.

'What is at stake in our lives is more than the fate of one...Read more...

Siz Shver Zol Zayn a Yid: Anti-Semitism is Alive and Well: But So Are We

10/10/2019 02:35:46 PM

Oct10

Rabbi Dan Dorsch

Tonight, I am going to give the sermon that when I entered into the rabbinate I swore I was never going to give: because I was never going to be the rabbi who never talked about guilt. I had big plans: I was going to be the rabbi who each high holy days left my community feeling uplifted and who talked about what Judaism was going to do for your life, not siz shver zol zayn a yid, how hard it is to be a Jew. I was...Read more...

Jew from the Pew

10/10/2019 02:19:33 PM

Oct10

Shalom Lewis, Rabbi Emeritus

 

Over these last days from Rosh Hashanah through Yom Kippur, I was asked by not a few curious well wishers how I enjoyed retirement and sitting in the congregation. I replied that the view from the pew for this Jew was a delight. For decades I have been looking at the congregation from the bima. The drama of ark openings. Yizkor. Kol Nidre. The timeless beauty of pulpit...Read more...

rosh hashanah 5780: Living a chayim tovim, A good life

10/03/2019 11:25:18 AM

Oct3

Rabbi Dan Dorsch

This summer, we watched as the world’s most dangerous mountain climb became even more dangerous. And even though HotLanta was really hot this summer, I am not talking about Kennesaw Mountain which has an elevation of 1,800 (a good Jewish number). I am talking about Mt. Everest at 29,029 feet, during which 11 people died trying to summit this year. Bringing the total to over 300 who have died trying to get to the...Read more...

The Camel Ride

10/03/2019 10:02:11 AM

Oct3

Shalom Lewis, Rabbi Emeritus

 

After a plodding camel ride into the Sahara to witness an exquisite sunrise in the desert. After greeting the dawn with words of prayer. We stumbled and tumbled down a sand dune, climbed back onto our waiting camels to return to our jeeps in the distance.

 

Our youthful camel drivers knew the...Read more...

Drashing with Dorsch

09/25/2019 12:18:21 PM

Sep25

Rabbi Dan Dorsch

Because Rabbi Dorsch has been so busy with the Yid Brothers and admiring our new Sanctuary, he has not had a chance to pen a blog this week. See you back here next week...

 

Update this content.

Bucket List: Morocco 

09/25/2019 12:12:28 PM

Sep25

Shalom Lewis, Rabbi Emeritus

 

Another bucket list adventure checked off. Though still in the throes of jet lag permit me a gnawing, persistent thought from our recent trip to Morocco.

 

It was everything we expected and more. A land of paradox. Modern and primitive. Lush but desert. Tolerant yet autocratic. But upon reflection I left with a stubborn...Read more...

Egalitarian Duchening

09/20/2019 09:21:22 AM

Sep20

Rabbi Dan Dorsch

 

Rachel Schwartz, the daughter of Jay and Elaine (and sister of our board of trustees member, Josh) just finished her second year studying at the Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem. The Yeshiva is one of the crown-jewels of our movement: today, the brightest scholars, rabbinical students, and products of our conservative synagogues learn, teach, and debate the future of...Read more...

saying Kaddish

09/20/2019 09:07:58 AM

Sep20

Shalom Lewis, Rabbi Emeritus

In recent weeks a number of our congregants completed the eleven months of kaddish following the death of their parent. I shared with them the words that my Talmud professor shared with me following the passing of my father. His kindness helped me as I entered the unchartered tears of loss. “Shalom”, he counselled, “You will experience the death of your aba twice. The first time is now, his physical departure as you sit shiva. The...Read more...

Dual Loyalty?

09/12/2019 10:29:24 AM

Sep12

Rabbi Dan Dorsch

If the United States went to war with Israel, which side would you pick?   Thank God, in the year 2019, this scenario seems like an utter impossibility. It’s more unlikely than the Phillies making the playoffs this season.   However, as a teenager who attended Jewish summer camp and youth group, I must have been asked this question in at least fifteen different settings. Each instance would stir vociferous debate. The group would...Read more...
Tue, April 7 2020 13 Nisan 5780